Trenton, NJ, January 10, 2006
Researchers from the Rutgers University Department of Nursing conducting
research on a cohort of 124 sophomore girls attending Trenton Central High
School (TCHS) disclosed today the results of the first data analysis. While surveys
show that self-esteem is not an issue for most students,
taking in an adequate number of servings of fruits and
vegetables is. Skipped meals, erratic eating behaviors,
inability to complete a 25-minute fitness routine with a personal
fitness trainer and abnormal blood work findings
prompted organizers to add more hands-on nutrition
days to the program.
The Teen Esteem program represents a partnership among several entities,
all with the same objective: to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes,
and metabolic syndrome in adolescent girls before they suffer the
consequences of poor health choices. The program stems from a request
from Ms. Ruthann Bailey of TCHS to Ms. Bonnie Arkus, Executive Director
of the Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) to provide a program that meets the
objectives of the Board of Education and school officials in improving
the health of TCHS students.
The Women's Heart Foundation responded by developing the curriculum
and procedures for the program, securing funding from various sources
including the State of New Jersey, various nursing organizations and
local businesses, and mobilizing research support from the Department
of Nursing of Rutgers University for a 3-year health study.
In the summer and into the fall of 2004, a room at the high school
main campus was renovated to provide space for the fitness program and
kitchen facilities to support nutrition instruction and demonstration.
Personnel were hired and the program was implemented in the fall of 2004
with seed money provided by the Office on Women's Health, NJ Department
of Health & Senior Services, and by the Department of Human Services,
advocated by Senator Shirley K. Turner. The Teen Esteem program doors
opened late October 2004 with an official press conference being held
During the 2004-2005 academic year, the program was piloted and evaluated
with an enrollment of 124 sophomore girls who participated in a fitness
routine three times per week, health on one day a week and nutrition on
the remaining day each week. Participants were self-selected and all
permissions were obtained. The program was provided as an alternative to
the regular health and physical education curriculum. Participants were
evaluated at the start of the program and again at the end of the
academic year on such measures as height, weight, blood pressure, waist
circumference, blood glucose level and blood lipid level. They also
completed surveys designed to measure self-esteem, physical activity
and nutrition. Girls participating in the program were measured against
a control group of 44 sophomore girls who did not participate in the Teen
At the start of the program, the group ranged in weight from 98 to 331
pounds with a mean weight of 152.49 pounds. Waist circumference ranged from
26.25 inches to 51 inches with a mean of 34.24 inches. Blood pressure
ranged from 84/50 to 152/110 with a mean of 110/69mm Hg. Glucose ranged from
27 to 443 with a mean of 87.46. Total cholesterol ranged from 150 to 450
with a mean of 163. A comparison of the findings from the beginning to the
end of the academic year follows:
The surveys showed a high level of self-esteem among both the participant
group and the control group, with a slight increase in average self-esteem
scores at the conclusion of the program. The nutrition subscale revealed
only 16% of students eating 2 or more servings of fruit and less than 10%
of students eating the recommended 4 to 5 servings of vegetables each day.
By the conclusion of the program, a greater percentage of students in the
participant group reported eating more than 2 servings of fruits and
vegetables each day. Similar results were seen on the physical activity
subscale with an increased percentage of students doing stretching and
muscle strengthening exercises during the preceding week of testing as
compared to the start of the program.
The results reveal an overall improvement in the physiological markers
for metabolic syndrome, with the exceptions of weight and BMI. The BMI
reflects the expected increase in height over the year and the weight
increase reflects the fact that muscles weigh more than fat. The results
of the physical activity and nutrition subscales reveal an improvement in
health choices and the results of the self-esteem measure reflect an
improvement in the girls' levels of self-esteem.
It became evident that a procedure for follow-up of abnormal clinical
findings was necessary and protocols were established through working with
the school's nursing supervisor. The poor nutrition practices of
students also prompted organizers to add more nutrition education days
with hands-on instruction in the Teen Esteem test kitchen
from a registered dietitian every 2-3 weeks. Starting a "Breakfast Club"
in the Teen Esteem room is also being explored, since few of the students
take advantage of the free breakfast program provided all students in
the school's cafeteria. Providing students with more regular nutritious
snacks, as part of the program, is another goal.
The program is continuing in the 2005-2006 academic year with a $15,000
restricted grant from the Horizon Foundation of New Jersey received by the
Women's Heart Foundation, a $5,000 Trenton City Block Grant received by the
School-based youth services program, and supplemental funding of $25,000
through the State of New Jersey. Currently 120 girls are enrolled in the
program, which includes 90 sophomore girls and 30 junior girls chosen from
last year's cohort who are continuing in the program and serving as Peer
Leaders to mentor the sophomore participants. WHF has plans to hold
a "Parent Night with Open House" in January.
Funding is needed to continue the program beyond the 2005-2006 academic year.
Grant applications are currently being submitted to various public and
private agencies and program evaluation is continuing. The program employs
a project manager, two certified fitness trainers, each who works one day
per week, and a registered dietitian for "hands-on" nutrition
days with preparation of healthy foods recipes in the Teen Esteem test
kitchen. The curriculum includes job interview skills-role play and an
opportunity for motivated students to take a course to become certified
personal fitness trainers. End-of-year rewards include a peer leadership
role for select students to continue the program in their junior year, and
special acknowledgements to "A" students, such as computers with student desks
or a savings bond with gift certifcate to a popular clothing store.
Potential corporate sponsors are invited to contact WHF and request a
free Teen Esteem video with sponsorship package.
Sponsors may contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teen Esteem is a program of the Women's Heart Foundation that is
being implemented with a health study in partnership with the
Rutgers University Department of Nursing, and the Youth Services
Program and Health and Physical Education Departments at Trenton
Central High School.
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey promotes health, well-being,
and quality of life in New Jersey’s communities. Priority areas
include health, the arts, and education.
The Women's Heart Foundation is a public-supported charity dedicated
to prevention of heart disease and to improving women’s survival and
quality of life. For more information contact us.